Is wine good for you?
Chances are you've heard that a little alcohol - especially wine - is good for the heart and for health generally. Sorting out fact from wishful thinking isn't easy. We look at the facts and find a little wine is probably fine - just don't overdo it.
Facts and fallacies
There's been a lot of talk lately about the risks and rewards that drinking wine has on your health. So what's true and what's not? In reality 'moderate' drinking (one or two units a day) does seem to protect against heart disease - but primarily for men aged over 40 and post-menopausal women. There is little evidence that drinking wine or other alcohol will improve the health of younger people, who are less at risk of heart disease in the first place. According to the British Heart Foundation, drinking more than two units a day may be harmful.
But before you go and pour your wine collection down the sink - relax. It really is true that wine - particularly red wine - does contain several antioxidants, such as quercetin and resveratrol, which may play a part in helping to prevent heart disease and cancer.
A woman can drink up to three units a day and men up to four units a day without significant risk to health.
Raise your glass to red wine
Scientists have found that red wines have higher levels of polyphenols, antioxidants that may reduce the risk of heart attack. In general, the darker the wine, the higher the antioxidant content - in tests, cabernet sauvignon grapes were shown to contain the most polyphenols.
Professor Andrew Waterhouse, of the University of California, suggests that other red grape varieties with medium to high levels of antioxidants are merlot, zinfandel, syrah and petit syrah.
Waterhouse also suggests that wines from milder regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rioja and California's Napa Valley, may have higher antioxidant levels than wines from hot regions such as Languedoc in France and southern Italy.
Some research suggests that white wine has health benefits too. Winemakers have created a chardonnay called Paradoxe Blanc, which is four times higher in polyphenols than red wine, seen it on general sale yet.